Five star career in computing
A stint in compulsory national service helped blaze an educational trail for Singaporean Lester Leong, which led all the way to Adelaide in 2004, helping to launch a prestigious career.
While serving his military training, Lester undertook a two-year undergraduate Bachelor of Computer Science (BCS) degree at the University of Adelaide, studying part-time through the Ngee Ann-Adelaide Education Centre's offshore program.
The 26-year-old computer science researcher then spent 12 months in Adelaide in 2004, completing his Honours and making history as the first Ngee Ann-Adelaide Education Centre student from the BSC course to finish his education at the North Terrace campus.
"It was a very exciting time in Adelaide. It was a bit scary at first because I felt people had high expectations of me, being the first Ngee Ann-Adelaide Education Centre student in the BSC degree to travel to Adelaide to do my Honours," he said.
"I also took a risk electing to study part-time through the Ngee Ann-Adelaide Education Centre because employers in Singapore generally do not approve of part-time courses.
"However, I did my homework on the computer science courses and decided that the University of Adelaide offered the best offshore program. They had fairly stringent requirements and the lecturers were very experienced, so I felt secure that the degree would be highly regarded. Hence, I decided to forgo my placement at the National University of Singapore."
At the University of Adelaide, Lester gained expertise in grid computing, which on his return to Singapore helped land him a job with the prestigious Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) - Institute of High Performance Computing.
Lester works in the high-end research field for software computing, specialising in grid computing. He is part of an internationally trained team, which has brought its own rewards.
"The good thing about A*STAR is that I am working with people from different countries and because it is a research field, people are trained to think differently. The overseas experience has helped me to look at things from a different perspective."
Lester is keen to work in Australia at a later stage, but for the moment Singapore's booming economy offers promising career prospects for the young researcher.
"Singapore is a fast-paced country. We are trained to excel and to always strive to be the first and the best. We are a small country with very few natural resources, so we rely on human resources to position ourselves in the forefront of new technology."
Story by Candy Gibson